Completely ignore if you like. I just need to release some ideas from my head. It comes in the form of a new story concept called Silhouette. I don't want this one to be too long though, so I'm aiming for novella length. The art's not the best either, as it's a little bit of a rush job, but it will suffice for clearing my head for the time being.
Over the weekend, while in a state of exhaustion, I randomly started reading some new manga. It ended up being "gender bender" manga. By which I mean, stories where a character (usually a guy) who is quite pointedly NOT transgender is by some weird (oft forced) magic shenanigans, transformed either temporarily or permanently into the "opposite sex". Usually in an otherwise normal real world setting. Mostly played for laughs. Almost assuredly with plenty of fanservice.
I grew up with a lot of this kind of gender bender stuff. It was an outlet for me when I didn't know transition was a thing yet. I used to hate that the main characters were always opposed to their transformations though (because I would've loved their "curse"). And yet I was simultaneously uncomfortable about the forced nature of the change (because I knew too well how much it sucked to feel trapped in a body that felt wrong). But since it was the closest thing I had to a story that I felt even vaguely validated by at the time, I kept coming back to these through my teen years.
And then there's the fact that if I didn't waste my youth wishing for some easy solution to magically poof me into a girl, I might've actually pursued transition a lot sooner. Escapism and wish fulfillment have their value, but I didn't have a Rain growing up that could depict the reality of transition to balance it out. And I needed that a lot more than I needed magical poofing that was never actually going to happen.
Now that I'm older, wiser, and transitioning, I can't help but focus on the more problematic elements. I can still enjoy these kinds of stories as a bit of a guilty pleasure, but since I'm transitioning now, I'm essentially already living my dream. I no longer need that vicarious bliss like I once did. And it makes the parts I don't like about these stories stand out more.
If you follow the Rain Webcomic Facebook page, you might have read a lot of these musings already. I shared these thoughts and many readers responded with theirs. The discussions were interesting and varied (and delightfully civil). It got me dwelling on all this even more. And perhaps with the fact that NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month) just started, the creative juices just flowed.
"I wonder if I can write a better, less potentially offensive gender bender that focuses on more real issues. One that removes some of the more problematic elements and offers a more unique perspective for this type of story." I don't necessarily know if I can, but challenge accepted! Silhouette was born from this notion. It will allow me to explore the fantasy of gender bending versus the reality of transition... and further delve into the wonder and harshness of both.
I don't want to get more specific than this yet. I would much rather let the story do the talking for itself. I'll give the characters' names for commenting purposes, but that's the extent of story details you're getting for right now.
From left to right:
Dana, Harper, and Giselle
And as soon as Rain - Volume 3 is done, I'm going to direct some of my free time to this (it won't get in the way of typical comic posting though). But that's why I had to draw this and express some of my thought process. This takes Silhouette out of my head, and allows me to return focus to Volume 3 distraction-free.
Not much else to say from there, so back to my real task for now. ^_^
I like the punk-looking girl. This might be very interesting. Punk rock is pretty much the best thing IMO, so I'm hyped
Good luck. Even when I was younger it bothered me how often TG fiction featured a protagonist who was unwillingly transformed.
Especially given how often they were then hit on or (in more adult works) forced into sexual situations with men.
Gender benders are my guilty pleasure too, but they always have their issues. I am looking forward to reading this!
I adore gender bending manga. If turning into a different gender was as easy as a flip of the wrist...Huh. What would I do...? I guess I would see what being a girl would be like. I assume it's not so different, except periods (and other biological functions exclusive to females) and a female build?
@haxorus29: The real differences are more social than physical. A male who's walking down the street doesn't have to worry about being catcalled (or being at risk of retaliation if he doesn't appreciate the "complement"), for example.
@Microrapter: What's the huge problem with catcalling? I mean, I consider it rude but I also would like to know what would make a woman worry about boisterous men declaring their attraction towards someone. I mean, I could understand that kind of fear when in Downton Detroit, but...the whole world isn't Downtown Detroit. You also do realize that some women enjoy catcalling, right?
@haxorus29: Some women, might. And some women act like it because it's what they're supposed to do. Or because they're actually afraid, because sexual violence against women is hardly limited to downtown Detroit. But "some women enjoy it" is one of the oldest justifications of sexual harassment in existence.
But try to imagine, if you will, that you're constantly being judged on your appearance. That you can't step outside without some complete stranger who wants to tell you that he'd like to get in your pants. That men see you as a sex object first and a person second, if at all.
And meanwhile, if you're a transwoman, you're judged in a different way. Because unless you're rich or fortunate to have been able to start your transition before you got too far along in puberty, you're unlikely to ever look feminine enough for society.
If you really want to learn more about this, there are plenty of sources of information available online for you to review.
@Microrapter: It's not a bloody epidemic where people are being catcalled left and right. And I don't have to imagine, I already have that fear. But I consider that fear irrational. For your third point, I honestly think it's immoral to let young children go through transition. Mainly because it might be too soon for them to realize how much of a lifechanger going through transition is, and that they should wait until at least they are 15-16 years old. And I have read those sources, and one of them is a women walking through what appears to be a ghetto in clothing I'm honestly supprised she can wear without being embaressed, for hours, and getting catcalled 4-6 times. (Let's stop while were ahead, I don't want this disscusion to devolve into ad hominems and insults)
"I honestly think it's immoral to let young children go through transition. Mainly because it might be too soon for them to realize how much of a lifechanger going through transition is"
I'm gonna just leave this link here...
I'll add that I knew being a boy wasn't right for me since I was age 3 or 4. Kids are much more aware than people think. And something like gender, I think, is instinctual. I didn't know the anatomical or societal differences between boys and girls when I first knew I should be a girl. But as I got older, that need only got stronger. Now I'm 31 wishing I'd said something much sooner.
That's not everyone's trans narrative, of course. Some don't know that they are until later in life. However, I believe that if a trans child has the opportunity to transition, then they should. At a very young age, they'd only be given puberty blockers anyway, which is totally reversible if they should realize they're not transgender before reaching the age where they could take hormones. So it's really relatively risk-free in that regard.
@LittleLynn84: Thanks for sharing that article, consider my opinion changed.
Because catcalling is objectifying. There are less demeaning ways to tell someone they're good-looking. But even if they use words, why does a complete stranger have to yell at me from across the street to tell me I've "got nice tits"? Either way, I don't like being yelled at; it's a complex I have. He might think he means well, but that's just creepy and makes lots of women feel vulnerable, because now we know he is just unabashedly staring and thus... objectifying.
"But wait! He's just trying to tell you that you look good." In a creepy, objectifying way, yes. Why is that necessary though? The people doing the catcalling are never people I know. Why should I care if a stranger thinks I look good? I'm not looking for anyone's approval, and if I don't ask, I'm not looking to hear anyone's opinion. I put on the clothes I'm wearing for me because I want to look and feel good for me. And even then, by being a stranger, I don't know them or what they're capable of. I don't have to live in Downtown Detroit to be concerned for my well-being. There are dangerous people EVERYWHERE.
And as an aside, especially as a trans girl, I'm at risk. Let's say a guy catcalls me. But then he clocks me, and realizes I'm trans. Suddenly, his manhood is at stake and it's "all my fault for trying to make him gay by tricking him into thinking I'm a woman". The trans panic defense is still totally legal in my state, so if he killed me over that, he could potentially even get away with it, and go right back onto the street to ogle and catcall more women.
Finally, if you're going to say "not ALL men are like that", don't. It doesn't have to be, because I don't know which ones are dangerous and which ones aren't. But if someone I don't know is yelling at me or dehumanizing me and that's the ONLY thing I have to go on, that's not a good first impression. And I have every right to feel wary around them.
@LittleLynn84: You do realize that I have an incredibly irrational fear that anyone (just ANYONE) might be wanting to harm me in any way just because it might be night, or we might be alone? And that I ignore that fear because it's irrelevant. I'm going to be honest, I would in fact be more than a little creeped out of some random guy came outta no where and said I'm attractive (But that's mainly because I'm under 18). I am aware that there are dangerous people everywhere (For fucks sake, I live in one of the safest cities in Michigan and someone had broken into my moms car and stole everything in it) And the gay panic laws...I have no fucking idea why those still exist(This is just a question, but do those laws apply for bisexual people? Because if so, then...Aw crap...). Props for my home state of California to be the first in the U.S. for banning use of gay panic in murder trials.
Finally, I apologize if I offended you in some way, I do not intend to offend...I guess.
"I have an incredibly irrational fear that anyone (just ANYONE) might be wanting to harm me in any way just because it might be night, or we might be alone? And that I ignore that fear because it's irrelevant."
I have an irrational fear of the dark, particularly if I've watched or read something scary recently. I start worrying about completely unrealistic things like ghosts and zombies and all manner of monsters even though I don't actually believe that stuff exists. But irrelevant as it is, it's not something I can just turn off. That's why it's irrational. If you can ignore your fears, then I'm pretty sure you're one of the lucky few, because I don't believe that's common. I wish I could do that instead of leaving every light in my apartment on at night if I'm home alone.
"And the gay panic laws...I have no idea why those still exist(This is just a question, but do those laws apply for bisexual people? ...Props for my home state of California to be the first in the U.S. for banning use of gay panic in murder trials."
I don't think there's technically a bi panic or pan panic or anything. But given how little the general public understands anything besides gay and lesbian (and even then, their understanding can be questionable), I would say someone who's bisexual might still be at risk for gay panic as well if the attacker feels "threatened" enough. It's stupid. But there are a lot of things with our judicial system that are stupid. For example, while California is the first state to ban gay and trans panic, it's still the only state to do so.
Basically because most cat-calling I have ever experienced isn't just whistling or saying I'm pretty. No, it's usually far more rude and crude than that, much more. Also yelled out rude invites for sex. Do keep in mind, this started for many of us when we were about 14, quite often by much older men.
Also, after the 1000th time of cat calling and random strangers asking if you want to go to bed with them, it gets really really old really fast. Yes I do live in a large city, no actually this didn't happen when I was wearing short shorts (go figure!) but more jeans and a tshirt.
I have also been followed for several blocks by such people more than once. I have talked with friends who have had much worse happen. I am fortunate that I'm assertive and can still scream when fear hits, many women unfortunately are not.
So perhaps the cat calling reminds some of us of friends who were stalked by similar acting people, or worse.
I had a male friend who would go up to women, and give them a rose. He didn't get any bad responses that he could tell. Much better idea. But yeah, it's all about the complete stranger thing. I have never yet met a women who likes cat calling, but perhaps some do?
@Guest: I do admit that I never really lived in any city for too long (Longest was 2 years, and those were the first 2 years of my life) so thanks on the reply, I don't have too much experiences with huge cities.
Hooray for NaNoWriMo! I think that story is one I'd like to read. Possibly as much as I enjoy reading Rain, which is a lot.
I totally understand the gender bender manga reading. Tbh dislike just crossdressing and how when they change full, they also mostly seem to change sexuality also...
About the story how long do you could as novella length? I am personally writting a story (very off and on to the point it is questionable at times).
Guess I just have an interest in how other people manage with story writing. >.<
Novella length would be like around 100 pages or so. As you might know from Rain, I'm capable of making stories go for a really long time... and I tend to.
But I'd like to make Silhouette a little more concise and to the point if I can. I won't stress out if it gets to be like 200 pages, but I'm purposely aiming small so it doesn't become the next big book trilogy. XD
@LittleLynn84: My story is around 81,259 words atm which is about page 109 but it is still in the first of 3 planned stages (single story is kind of out of the question at this rate if each stage is similar length). Problem is motivation for writing combined with often lack of correct mind set due to life's issues ...
Any advice for keeping being able to work on something like you have managed with Rain?
There's two big things that help me with Rain:
1. I do some degree of work for Rain every single day. I never truly give myself a day off. Some days might have a much smaller workload to lessen the likelihood of being burnt out, but there's something done everyday. Maybe it's completing an entire page or two. Maybe it's writing some of the future script. Maybe it's even just rereading upcoming script and making small edits. It could even be just drawing a fraction of a panel or writing a single sentence or going over ideas in my head while I'm going somewhere. The key is to make it so that Rain is part of my daily routine. This way, my mindset keeps me coming back and allows me to constantly have new ideas.
2. The other thing that keeps me focused unfortunately might not always be an available option depending on the storytelling medium. For me, the readers go a long way toward keeping me focused. Every time a page goes up, people express their reactions to what's going on. Letting me know when something's funny, when they get feels, when a character angers them, when they have a theory of where they think I'm going, and when they want to share their giddiness at a line that seems to hint toward their ship. These reactions can be very motivating, because they show that someone is reading and enjoying my work. And it makes me want to try my hardest to not let them down. Again though, this one might be a little specific to webcomics or serial stories that are being regularly posted and seen by the audience as it goes.
I hope this helps. ^_^
@LittleLynn84: Thank you for the time anyway :p
Interesting! I, too, find the gender-bending stories problematic and, frankly, somewhat disturbing at times. I mean, yeah, if there were a way to medically transition that was easier, faster, and better than hormones, that would be frickin' amazing. At the same time, though, the idea of being forced to live as the wrong gender is horrific to me -- because I live it.
I know you'll do a good job with this story. ^_^
The problem with gender-bending stories is that the wish fulfillment arc of "protagonist changes gender and [after lots of plot] becomes a happier person" directly conflicts with the realities that being forced to live as the wrong gender does not actually make you happier, which (in addition to being true) is culturally very important to convey, since it's the backbone of the argument that transgendered people should be allowed to live as their own gender.
And of course that's ignoring all the gender-bending stories that are written purely for the fanservice and comedy potential by uninformed authors who don't know any better.
Well dang, now i need to find a new name for my in-progress Trans-Superhero comic.
Regardless, i look forward to your new comic. Also, if you have some gender bender manga that aren't awful(i trust your opinion) i would appreciate recommendations.
Sorry. Didn't mean to step on any toes with trans story titles. ^^;
As for gender bender manga I'm currently reading, the ones that inspired me to want to write Silhouette were:
Osananajimi wa Onnanoko ni Naare (I have no idea what that translates to). It's a silly, episodic manga about a student who makes a wish to a fairy for a "cute girl childhood friend"... so the fairy turns his male best friend into a girl, quite against his will. The forced aspect is a bit uncomfortable and it's kind of a checklist of everything wrong with the genre, yet it strangely still had a certain charm that kept me reading. The art is cute and all but it's probably not for everyone.
When I ran out of that, the manga site threw a whole bunch of related titles at me. This started me on Boku Girl, about an exceptionally pretty boy who is often mistaken for a girl. But then Loki (you know, the Norse god of mischief) was bored and decided to actually turn him into a girl. The premise sounds a little ridiculous at first, and it has a slow, forced start, but the writing is actually pretty good once it gets going (and I love the art). It can be a pretty darn NSFW sometimes, and likes to dance precariously close to the line of being hentai, but thankfully never crosses it. But despite the occasional over-the-top fanservice that I could live without, in terms of writing it's genuinely more interesting and funnier than a lot of others of this genre I've seen. (And so many love triangles! We know how much I love those! XD) Again, it might not be for everyone, but I'm actually really enjoying it thus far, and I'm very much invested in the characters.
Finally, just yesterday I started Clear Up after Rain (which on principle of the title, I had to check out). XD It's about five boys who start at a new school, but for reasons unclear yet, they temporarily change into girls when it rains. I'm only three chapters in, and the pacing a bit slow so far, but everything feels very promising. It seems much less tropey, less fanservicey, and a lot deeper than the average gender bender story. I probably haven't seen enough to really recommend this yet, but it's immediately my favorite of the three I've mentioned, and I have high hopes from here.
And then I have another dozen or so that people have recommended to me on my reading list I'll check out when I can.
@LittleLynn84: The first one (according to a site I found it on) is:
My childhood friend MUST become a girl!
I have also started reading it and really enjoying it >.<
That makes sense for the title. XD
Glad to hear you're enjoying it. ^_^
There was a Green Lantern-Story, where the Alien-Woman Arisia, who looked like a child, was in love with Hal and wanted to be seen as a woman by him, so her ring gave her the body of an adult woman.
Normally the Ring can only use the willpower of his user to materialize any object, but this tells us, that the ring can alter the body of the User, if his will for another body is strong enough.
Wouldn't that be a great way, to introduce a Trans-Superhero or would that be to easy and wish-fulfillmenty for the character. Maybe it would work with a Trans-Character in the closet(even a bit for him-/herself and the Ring would alter the body only, if this character can accept him-/herself completely as who he/she is.
That brought me to the question, which ring Rain would use.
Green(Courage): Maybe. She has many fears, but maybe she can wear that ring, because she is willing to step up against this fears.
Blue(Hope): Maybe. She is a bit of a pessimist. Blue Lanterns can increase the power of green lanterns, so it would be cool if Rain and Emily would wear blue and green(I don't know who wears which ring).
Red(Anger and Hate): Nope!
Yellow(creating fear in others): NOPE!
Indigo(Compassion): Works propably the best.
Violet(Love): Would propably work too.
Black(Death) and White(Life): A bit to abstract.
I'd totally check out something like that!
I've always been a sucker for projects like that, "can we take this usually offensive trope and make it not offensive but actually really cool and interesting"-project
Fun fact: it was gender bender webcomics that first got me questioning my gender.
So understandably, guilty pleasure as charged, good sir/madam/whatever-title-is-appropriate-for-your-gender.
I've actually designed comics like this before, too. Really wish I had the skill to make them.
There was an old Alice in Wonderland cartoon I used to watch as a kid and I swear I thought that Ozma had been magically transformed into a boy to hide her identity. I think it was the short hair and trousers. I was a major league tomboy as a kid, so I don't know what made me jump to this conclusion.
@Guest: This reply is a spoiler!
This has plot details about the 2nd book in the Oz series, so if you have not read what I think is the best of all the Oz books, go search Project Gutenberg for the free version of the book, or Librivox.org for one of the audio book versions read by volunteers. The book has much to delight lovers of magical transformations.
[[[ SKIP NEXT PART TO AVOID SPOILER! ]]]
In "The Magical Land of Oz" the main character, Tip, turns out to be Princess Ozma, magically transformed by a witch into a boy as a baby. It's only at the end of the book that the witch who did it is forced to transform him back into her. Tip reluctantly agrees to become a girl, but only on a trial basis, and then never goes back.
@LittleLynn84: I learned after around 15 years of wondering if I was trans that I wasn't (and that's a subject for a different day.) During that time I found a love for stories of forced gender transformations. Yes, I always felt guilty for liking the torment of the victims, but I also secretly wanted to be them. I thought it would be wonderful to have that decision taken out of my hands! No one could accuse me of doing it to myself, because someone else had done it to me. I assumed that I would love being female, but always hid that desire, so if someone had forced me to become a girl and later a woman, everyone would see me as the victim, not the perpetrator of my change. I could ask for help from my parents, friends, fashion and beauty experts and even people who normally hated gays or transsexual people would all be glad to help a victim of such a cruel change in status, never suspecting that I had wanted that change all along. It would be pleasure without guilt!
I still like those stories today, almost 40 years after I discovered I was definitely cis, because I still have fantasies about changing gender either temporarily or permanently. I like everything from the "were-woman" and magical transformation comics in TGComics.com, the transformation guns used in the webcomic "El Goonish Shive", and the forced transformations one can find in many of the stories posted in the vast collection on the Fictionmania.tv website.
The problem with many of the stories out there is that a lot of authors are just plain mean to their characters, or have them do things to each other that leave a sour taste in my mouth after reading them.
Your comic not only has a storyline that has managed to keep me interested and coming back year after year, for which I can't thank you enough! It also never goes so far over the edge of decency that I would feel bad if someone at work read it over my shoulder when I read it during a coffee break, for which I also thank you!